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HCRS Announces New Police Social Work Program Staff for Springfield and Bellows Falls Police Depts.

HCRS is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Christine Bullard as the new HCRS Community Support Specialist for the Police Social Work (PSW) program in the Springfield and Bellows Falls Police Departments. The PSW program provides service coordination to individuals referred by the Police Department or community providers in order to assist them in accessing social services. Often individuals come into contact with law enforcement as the result of an unmet social need. PSW staff, co-located at police departments, make connections with community members and build a bridge between the community and mental health, substance abuse, and other services. Once these individuals receive needed social services they are less likely to come back in contact with law enforcement.

Ms. Bullard brings a wealth of knowledge on family violence issues and working with police. Over the course of the last 20 years, Ms. Bullard has provided direct service to women and children who have been victims of domestic violence. She spent four years working as a Training Coordinator at the Vermont Police Academy and has worked with police locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. Ms. Bullard was the Program Manager for a Domestic Violence Community Partnership Program funded by the U.S. Department of State and a Senior Program manager for a Public Safety Technology Center in the Washington, D.C. area. More recently, she has co-facilitated the Intensive Domestic Abuse Program at the Springfield Probation and Parole office.

According to Springfield Police Chief Doug Johnston, “[The PSW Program] is an important service that we can offer the public who are in need. We welcome Christine to the Springfield Police Department and look forward to working with her for the betterment of our community.” Bellows Falls Police Chief Robert Lake agrees, “We are very happy to have our Police Social Work program return to the Bellows Falls Police Department. The help we receive from the program is immeasurable. It puts our police officers back to doing police work and not trying to do social work.”

Originally started in Bellows Falls in 2002, the PSW program contributed to a 30% reduction in crime in that community. The PSW program has been honored by the Secretary of the Agency of Human Services, cited as a model program by the Act 80 Law Enforcement Advisory Board, recommended by the statewide Incarcerated Women’s Initiative report, and has received the 2005 Special Recognition award by the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill of Vermont. A two-year grant from the Fanny Holt Ames and Edna Louise Holt Fund generously helps support this critical program.